Involvement of Private Companies in the HIV Response
Wednesday, 3 December 2014
There are many entities involved in the HIV response including the business sector, trade union organizations, the Spanish government, and public opinion.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), nine out of ten people (30 million) are living with HIV worldwide and are between the ages of 20 and 49, which are considered the most productive years of a person´s life. In Spain, approximately 64% are in this range. The above figures put us in a difficult situation that must be addressed in a multisectoral manner. Not only are the livelihoods of people living with HIV and their families affected by their condition, but also productivity, rights at work, growth economic development of countries and companies suffer.
Therefore, during the commemoration of World AIDS Day 2014 on December 1st, Trabajando en Positivo emphasizes the need for the government, public and private companies, business associations, trade unions as well as other agents of labor, health and social sphere to be involved in promoting and supporting national and international efforts in the response to HIV and AIDS.
According to Trabajando en Positivo, companies operating in Spain can play a fundamental role in converting the workplace to a setting that provides key responses to HIV. They can generate strategies and activities that contribute to the prevention of HIV and preserve the rights of working people.
To promote, from organized civil society, the necessary implication and an attitude of responsibility for Spanish private companies from the HIV epidemic, the Federation Positive working offers the initiative "Responsible Business with HIV and AIDS in Spain." It is open to any company (large, medium, or small) in any labor sector in order to generate strategies for information, awareness and HIV education directed towards their employees, families, and community, as well as to encourage the employment of people with HIV.
Under this initiative, Trabajando en Positivo gives businesses the tools necessary for the definition, implementation and evaluation of objectives and actions that compliment the efforts of information, prevention and discrimination. Simultaneously, they provide ways to respect the capacities, needs, and realities of the company, its workers, and its environment. Thus, the actions through which the initiative is run in each company can be as diverse as the workplace allows.
Companies may reap various benefits from the free assistance such as economic profitability, visibility and recognition of good practices, and improved working environment and productivity. Following the practice of the ILO HIV and AIDS in the workplace, we highlight two reasons why we consider Spanish involvement to be important in private companies in the response to HIV and AIDS in Spain:
a) The epidemiological situation of HIV in Spain: there is a need to expand existing strategies for voluntary and confidential testing among the population. It is estimated that about 30% of 150,000 people with HIV are unaware that they are infected and are the source of more than 50% of new infections. 46% of the 3,278 new cases detected in 2013 presented a late diagnosis, which implies a worse prognosis health, greater difficulty in selecting the appropriate antiretroviral therapy, and increased cost of treatment and care of patients.
b) The attitudes of existing stigma and discrimination towards people with HIV in the workplace: the end to discrimination, especially in the workplace, is one of the most effective actions we can take. Continued ignorance of basic information and the validity of prejudice and stereotypes associated with this infection leads to irrational fears of sharing workspaces with people with HIV and consequently systematic rejection.
Between 20.7% and 55% of people with HIV are unemployed. 75% are of working age.
Some of the evidence that reflect this climate of stigma and discrimination towards people with HIV in the Spanish labor market are: 25.8% of the population between something and feel totally uncomfortable at the prospect of sharing workspace with a person with HIV. 23.7% would try to avoid it.
Discrimination at work as the main reason for consultation in Legal Advisory services of different Spanish entities, through which they identify as main situations of discrimination as changes in working conditions, violation of the confidentiality of medical data, the exclusion clauses in opposition, the mobbing to force the voluntary departure of the worker, the request for an HIV test without relevance to the post, and the difficulties related to disability certificate when the company wants to know the cause of the disability of the person.
The Initiative "Responsible Companies with HIV and AIDS in Spain" is part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of the United Nations, the guiding principles of the Global Compact, the Strategy "Getting to Zero" Joint Programme United Nations Programme on HIV / AIDS (UNAIDS) and the international standards of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on HIV and the workplace. It also relies on the initiative "Companies engaged in the response to HIV and AIDS" developed since 2009 by Guest Foundation in Argentina, from which come some of the arguments reflected in this manifesto, as well as the working model and the Declaration to be signed by the companies. Likewise, in Spain, is supported financially by the Ministry of Health and linked to the Strategic Plan for Prevention and Control of HIV and other STIs.